Gov’t scraps administrative measures against striking trainee doctors

Jul 09, 2024, 08:43 am

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Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong speaks during a press briefing in Seoul on July 8, 2024./ Photographed by Park Sung-il

AsiaToday reporter Lee Joon-young

The government has decided to withdraw all administrative measures, including a plan to suspend medical licenses, against striking trainee doctors who have rejected the state order to return to work in protest of the government’s medical school admissions quota hike. 

“Starting today, the government decided not to take administrative steps against any trainee doctors regardless of their returning to hospitals given the demand from the medical community and the health care situations,” Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong told a press briefing after a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters on Monday. 

Earlier in March, the government had said it would suspend the medical licenses of the striking doctors and take other punitive, administrative steps for the collective action in accordance with law. However, the government decided not to take punitive steps against striking doctors after announcing last month that it would suspend administrative steps on returning trainee doctors.

The government will give special favors to returning junior doctors regarding their training, as well as to those who opt to apply again for training courses in September. Under the current guidelines, trainee doctors who resigned must wait until September next year to resume training. With this special application, trainee doctors who have resigned can apply for the same subject for other training hospitals in the second half of this year.

The government plans to maximize the return of trainee doctors in the second half of the year. It urged training hospitals to process all resignations tendered by trainee doctors who do not return by July 15 to prevent disruptions in the recruitment of trainee doctors for the second half the year starting July 22. It also decided to speed up the transition of high-level hospitals to specialist hospitals to reduce the proportion of trainee doctors.

Cho said the latest decision was made as part of the government’s efforts to minimize the vacuum in medical services for critical and emergency patients and maintain continuity of the medical training system to foster trainee doctors.

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